October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

While pink may be my signature color — channeling my best Shelby Eatenton, Steel Magnolias impersonation — this month has more meaning for me than just enjoying pink things.


My journey with breast cancer began in August 2012 when I went in for what my surgeon felt would be another routine lumpectomy.

To his surprise and mine, the pathology came back showing stage 1 ductal carcinoma. In November 2012 I underwent a second surgery to remove more affected tissue, and then a series of hormonal shots that helped my body rid itself of any remaining cancerous cells.

My journey continues, as I am currently awaiting a surgery date for early November to have several more lumps removed. We shall see what the outcome of this surgery is.

There are many myths about breast cancer, and I hope to dispel a few of them today.

• Myth No. 1: Only women with a family history are at risk for developing breast cancer. Not true: Anyone can develop breast cancer. In my case, my form of breast cancer was completely unrelated to my family history.

• Myth No. 2: Only women develop breast cancer. This isn't true either. Though it's rare, men can and do develop breast cancer. According to www.breastcancer.org, "In 2015, about 2,350 men are expected to be diagnosed with the disease. For men, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000."

• Myth No. 3: Breast cancer is not painful. Not so — my first symptom was a burning sensation that kept getting more and more intense. That is what had me call my gynecologist in the first place.

• Myth No. 4: All lumps are cancerous. No; in fact, about 80 percent of all lumps turn out to be benign. According to www.webmd.com, "Most breast lumps women feel — eight out of 10 — aren't cancer." Of the eight lumps I have had removed, two turned out to be ductal carcinoma.

• Myth No. 5: Breast cancer is no longer a leading cause of death. I heard this the other day and nearly choked. All cancers are the second-leading cause of death of females in the USA — heart disease is the leading cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women, behind lung cancer.

• Myth No. 6: Only women older than 50 develop breast cancer. This isn't true, though the risk of developing breast cancer does increase with age. According to www.health.com, "A woman's chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 233 when she's in her 30s and rises to 1 in 8 by the time she's reached 85."

• Myth No. 7: All breast cancer diagnoses mean you have to have a mastectomy. Not so: I have had two ductal carcinoma surgeries that removed the cancerous masses and some surrounding tissues, but my breasts are still here.

• Myth No. 8: Any kind of pain in the breast means you have cancer. No, not at all. There are a number of other causes for prolonged pain in the breasts. Things such as infections are common causes of pain.

• Myth No. 9: All the organizations that ask for donations are phony. Some, maybe, but organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation are the leaders in their field. According to the foundation's 2013 financial statements, about 83 cents of every dollar collected goes toward its mission to eradicate breast cancer.

Each Tuesday in October, Java Mammas Cafe, in Reisterstown, will donate 10 percent of the day's sales to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.


Icedgems Baking will also be out this month with its pink ribbon cupcakes, a special treat I always look forward to.

Terry Chaney is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at antter95@yahoo.com.